The University of Montana has settled on an exterior design for the latest athletic department addition to campus.

UM released the final design for the state-of-the-art Washington-Grizzly Champions Center on Thursday morning, a 46,000-square-foot complex that gives Montana's aging internal facilities a face lift.

Tucked behind the southwest corner of Washington-Grizzly Stadium, the $14 million Champions Center will house a new 7,000 square-foot locker room for the Grizzly football team, a 12,500 square-foot strength and conditioning center for all student-athletes and expansive team meeting spaces.

The Champions Center was approved by the state Board of Regents last November, though the original designs released last fall were abandoned. The updated plans were the focus on this week's release. 

"It's definitely an important and exciting next step in the process of getting the facility built," said Montana Athletic Director Kent Haslam. "It's nice to be able to finally visualize what it is going to look like.

"It's a striking design. It's a facility that people will immediately see when you're driving along Campus Drive. It fits in perfectly with the stadium and how the stadium looks."

CTA Architects of Missoula and Sports Plan Architects out of Kansas City, Missouri have been instrumental in the design and implementation of the final artist renderings, a university press release said.

The massive project will replace the decades-old facilities within the Adams Center, areas that pale in comparison to the pristine outer game-day experience of Washington-Grizzly Stadium. The new building will fit within the space between the stadium and adjacent Adams Center.

The Champions Center will not be large enough to block further expansion of the football stadium, Haslam assured. The stadium master plan continues to account for possible additions to the 25,217-seat facility.

Crews began construction earlier this summer, rerouting utilities in the area ahead of the 2015 football season. Those minor moves were patched up in time for Montana's Aug. 29 opener against North Dakota State.

Full construction of the new facility is set to get underway in some capacity following the football season this fall, though most of the work will start in the spring when weather allows.

The university has set the project's completion date for summer 2017 to be ready for that year's fall semester athletic seasons.

Last November, Kyle and Kevin Washington made a historic lead gift of $7 million to kick-start funding for the project on behalf of the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation. The Washington Foundation played a large role in the funding of the stadium nearly 30 years ago.

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